Of Ekwulobia Diocese
CARDINAL'S COAT OF ARM:
Coats of arms have been in use by cities, families and individuals since the time of the Greeks. These coats of arms are not only marks of identity but also depictions of what their users stand for. The images and colours are symbolic modes of expression. A coat of arms also contains a statement of commitment or vision called the motto.
The Church took up the practice of making and using coats of arms. There are some common elements in Bishops’ coats of arms. The first is the shepherd’s hat, a constant reminder that the bishop is a shepherd, a pastor who imitating Jesus Christ, is charged with leading God’s people to restful waters (Ps. 23). The shield, the sword and the priestly cincture (cord) show that the bishop is a shepherd of a pilgrim Church, the Church militant, who need the shield of faith, the sword of the Word of God and the belt of truth (Eph 6:14-17) to triumph.
The motto “Veni Sancte Spiritus” – “Come Holy Spirit” – unites all the motifs in my coat of arms. The invocation is for a new Pentecost and recalls the words of the sequence of the Mass of Pentecost – the Golden Sequence – whose rich poetry and deep thoughts have continually sustained my prayer life and vision of ministry. It is not in vain that Jesus told his disciples to wait till they have received the Holy Spirit, the power from on high, (Lk 24:49) who would lead them into all truth (Jn 16:13) and then they would be his witnesses (Acts 1:8). As Church and as individual Christians, we still need the power and warmth of the Spirit’s love in order to urge our feet on the path of truth and move our hearts to love God and one another.
The dove, the tongues as of fire and the red colour are all associated with the Holy Spirit. The praying hand is an invitation to prayer. Prayer is the acknowledgement of the primacy of God; an exercise of trust borne out of a receptive disposition towards the Holy Spirit, who intercedes for us with words too deep for human understanding (Rom 8:26) and transforms our lives, our actions and ultimately our relationships and our environment – human and physical – so that we become like the tree planted by the river (Ps 1:3) evergreen, ever fruitful. The green colour of the shepherd hats and the cincture express my prayer and vision of a ministry that is life-giving in imitation of Jesus, the good shepherd, who came that we may have life in full (Jn 10:10).
EKWULOBIA DIOCESAN LOGO:
The Ekwulobia Diocesan Logo consists of a shield on top of which is set a Bishop’s mitre. A cross and a pastoral staff (crozier) stand at angles on both sides and are partly hidden from view by the shield. On the shield is the image of the Holy Spirit bathing the universe in divine energy. At the lower end of the shield is the image of a wooden gong (ekwe) surrounded by wavelike structures. The shield is set in deep blue colour while the image of the Holy Spirit, as well as the wooden gong, is red. The Mitre is in white colour. The lappets and decorations on the mitre are golden. There are also three buttons in the form of crosses. They are set at the upper side of the shield, one at the middle and two at the sides. There are three other obvious images of the cross: on the lappets and on the mitre.
A shield usually protects from harm. This is what faith does. In Eph 6:16, St. Paul speaks of the “shield of faith” to enable one quench the burning arrows of the evil one. It is, however, faith that has gone through the purifying fire of Good Friday (the Cross) and one that yields itself to the guidance of the Church symbolized by the crozier.
True faith is inextricably connected with love and hope (1 Cor 13:13). These constitute the three theological virtues. The three buttons stand for these virtues. Because of love’s preeminence in our relationship with God and with one another, it is centrally placed and higher up than the others. The button near the cross stands for hope because suffering above all else exercises our hope (Rom 5:3-5). Faith is near the crozier because it comes from hearing (Rom 10:17) and it is celebrated and kept alive in the midst of the community of brothers and sisters. The abundance of the image of the cross, seven in all, is a reminder of the profile of a disciple as one carrying his or her cross; living for the good of others through total self-gift, in imitation and obedience to Jesus Christ (Matt 16:24).
The image and the red colour of the Holy Spirit indicate that the Spirit brings life and fire and generously bestows its transforming energy on creation. The Spirit leads all into the mystery of Jesus Christ (Jn 16:13). Moved by the power of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 2:1ff), the disciples went out preaching the Good News to the ends of the earth in fulfilment of the missionary mandate (Matt 28:19-20).
In the Igbo context, the wooden gong (ekwe) is the instrument for convoking an assembly for deliberation, for “Palaver.” It is also the instrument for readying the community for a public service announcement. The gong stands in for our diocesan family, what we want to be and to do. We want to be a diocesan family convoked by the Holy Spirit, sharing and celebrating our experiences of God in a spirit of openness and respect for one another, for we are all one in Christ (Gal 3:28). We want to be like the ekwe used by the Holy Spirit to gather the scattered children of God. We are on a mission. This demands that we embody the Good News and announce it by word and example. The wavelike image surrounding the ekwe announces both a reality and a prayer. It is a reality that we have been set in motion by the action of the Holy Spirit and a prayer that through the power of the same Holy Spirit, we may use all that are and have; all the means of communication – traditional and modern – to bring people to taste that the Lord is good (Ps 34:8).
Blue is the colour of our Blessed Mother Mary, whose spouse Joseph, is the patron saint of our diocese. We are connected in a deep way with Our Lady. True to the character of St. Joseph, chaste, humble, reliable and self-effacing, we have also represented him indirectly through reference to our Blessed Mother Mary and her Son. By this, we remind ourselves as a diocese to walk humbly, like St. Joseph, before our God (Mi 6:8) to be chaste and reliable instruments in God’s hands, those whose only desire is to die to self so that Jesus Christ will live and shine out (Gal 2:20) more clearly in our faith, working through love (Gal 5:6) and sustained by the hope of the crown of glory to be won through our perseverance (1 Thess 2:19). This anticipated victory in God’s Kingdom is symbolized by the white (Rev. 7:9) and the golden colours of the mitre and the lappets respectively. We hope to partake in this victory together with and under the leadership of our chief shepherd.
So help us, God!